WaPo Readers Pick Aspiring Journalist’s Story As Best ‘Coffeehouse Story’

This is like the mobius strip of journalism, somehow.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post sent seven reporters to coffeehouses across the region to find feature stories. The resulting stories appeared online, and readers voted to decide which of the seven should appear in the paper today.

Out of stories about retired guys discussing huge issues over coffee, a guy wondering if he should marry his girlfriend, and an unemployed Iranian immigrant who changed his name to “Mike Milano” to avoid awkward questions, Post readers voted on an essay written by a UMD J-school undergrad.

Here’s how it starts, by J. Freedom du Lac:

Rachel Karitis wants my job. Or maybe Manuel Roig-Franzia’s, because she’s obsessed with the Alvin Greene-for-U.S. Senate story. Either gig would be good work, if she could get it.

“A job at The Washington Post would be great,” she says. Karitis is studying the ancient trade of journalism at the University of Maryland. She’s especially enamored with print journalism. Never mind that print is a sickly medium and that most of her friends — at least the ones who aren’t also aspiring journalists — never pick up an actual dead-tree edition of a newspaper.

Here’s how it ends: Karitis talks du Lac into letting her write an essay about her chosen career.

Post readers overwhelmingly voted for this story, which grabbed 36 percent of the total votes…perhaps just because they wanted to give the kid a break. Anyway, after today she’s now a Washington Post-published journalist.

So, the grand experiment that was supposed to breathe new life into print journalism…is capped off by an essay by a new journalist about how print is dead. Feeling the weirdness yet?

Update: Add “enterprising” to Karitis’s list of qualities. Du Lac tweeted (in response to our question about whether she knew the Post would be at the coffee shop): “I think I can answer that for @rachelieuu –she said she did, as she’d seen something in the print Post that am.” How’s that for targeted networking?